Yesterday, Governor Paterson announced that the State of New York would expand consideration and granting of pardons to lawful immigrants for old or minor convictions, in the hopes of avoiding deportation. Describing the immigration laws regarding deportation as "embarrassingly and wrongly inflexible,” Paterson emphasized the importance of giving permanent residents who have been convicted of old or relatively minor crimes a second chance.
This is a welcome and marked departure from Arizona Governor's Brewer's recent signing into law of SB 1070, which requires law enforcement to question people about their immigration status if there is reasonable suspicion to believe that they are undocumented.
Paterson's new policy does not require legislative approval. To implement the policy, Paterson will establish a five-member panel called the "Special Immigration Board of Pardons" to review cases. Review of cases is expected to take several weeks, and it is anticipated that hundreds of pardon applications will be filed by the end of the year.
Many individuals are unaware that having permanent resident status (a green card) does not protect against deportation, even for crimes that may have occurred many years ago, or that seem very trivial in nature.
For more information regarding Governor Paterson's new initiative please go to http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/04/nyregion/04deport.html?nl=nyregion&emc=ura1